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Poster: Staraker Date: Jan 12, 2010 4:49am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: BritishKorda PD Films on Archive?

Without seeing specific examples of the claims you refer to, I'm not sure how far it can be judged to be "misinformation," although would acknowledge that FACT in particular are no strangers to putting a questionable "spin" on much of what they say publicly. That said, I think it's a bit simplistic of yourself to say that, "films made before 1 August 1989 are not covered by the current term calculation," since it is clear that pre-1 June 1957 films seem to be covered along very similar lines to those post 1 August 1989; it is only those falling between those two dates that have a significantly different status.

Obviously this is a US site and use laws prevail, but there is a grey area that users based in the UK - for, for that matter, any other country where US PD films are still in copyright - can still use it, whether for uploading or downloading. In essence this is the civil law equivalent of the criminal implications of contempt of court and libel that crop up with UK-based Wikipedia editors, etc.

You seem to have changed tack slightly, now claiming that pre-1957 films aren't eligible for URAA protection because they're not protected by specific film copyright in the UK, but rather as something else, i.e. "dramatic works." This, I think, is the point on which many lawyers would make a lot of money, but in essence it seems like taking advantage of a loophole contrary to the spirit and intentions of the URAA.

On a personal note, it would seem that although I was always prepared to claim "fair dealing" for the gallery of Things to Come production stills on my website, it's nice to discover that they're actually out of copyright now!

When I refered to "1956-1988 films" by the dates I meant - for the sake of brevity - the Acts, not the actual effective dates. Apologies is this was open to misinterpretation.

Sorry, I should have been more clear as regards the reference to the BBFC. Under the 1984 Video Recording Act it is required that every video release has to have a separate certification. Even if the contents of a new release by a different publisher are the same as a previously-certified version, it has to be re-certified. This is, of course, all money into the BBFC's pocket.

"Supplying" (not just sale, but loaning, gifting, etc.) an uncertified title is a criminal offence, as is supplying an age-restricted title to someone below whatever age it is. Documentaries and music videos can claim exemption, but the vast majority of releases cannot. Last year, however, it was realised that due to an oversight, the law was not enforcable, although there had previously been many prosecutions. Pending prosecutions were dropped, but there were no plans to quash previous convictions, and the government has signalled an intention to reintroduce the legislation properly as soon as possible, so the BBFC is still classifying releases, and retailers are voluntarily enforcing age restrictions. The issue as regards Orbit is that until that news broke, supply of the Hitchock double-bill would have been regarded as illegal, and it will be when the legislation is reintroduced. As noted, they did submit the other two Hitchock films, but one would have to look into the matter further to see if the uncertifed double-bill is unqiue or not. It may be an honest oversight by Orbit, but it does call into question the professionalism of their operations.

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jan 12, 2010 6:01am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: BritishKorda PD Films on Archive?

I'm not sure that it is really taking advantage of a loophole in the law against the spirit of URAA. The URAA seems to have clear qualifications built in. They seem to be designed to prevent many works from being restored.

Even at the earliest part of last century many copyright works were first published concurrently in the US and UK. I believe Korda's "Divorce of Lady X" was published in the US about a week after its UK publication. I am sure there are many other examples like this. The nationality qualification is fair, otherwise URAA would be open to misuse by US nationals whose works were first published abroad, and the copyright or related rights provision is pretty important to the integrity of the restoration process.

When I looked back on my original copyright research and advice I found that I was arguing the wrong point. While some of the advice I received was that there is room to interpret 13.3.a in the 1956 Act, when coupled with the the wording of Schedule 1 -12.2.e of the 1988 Act, as including films made and registered before the 1956 act, I accept that this is widely open to debate. Films protected as dramatic works made before the 1956 act are most likely protected in the UK for life of the writer and directors + 70 years, unless published posthumously before the commencement of the 1988 Act where they would have been copyright for 50 years from publication. While this is similar to the current copyright regime. It is not the same.

I should have looked more closely at my notes and I would have seen my original rationale for the US public domain status of the films. The information I had was that the lack of copyright protection as completed films was the reason GATT/URAA restoration couldn't apply. I have looked back at the original information I had and have corrected myself.

As to FACT, I don't have any specific material from them, but they seem to be the prevalent industry voice. I often find in forums that most British users expect that the life of the last surviving Director, Composer, Writer and Cinematographer plus 70 years is the across the board determiner and say that they got this information from a FACT info sheet. They seem genuinely shocked to learn that many of the first three years worth of Hammer horror movies are, at least by definition, public domain in the UK.

I am sure FACT say some wild things. Their Australian counterpart AFACT has been known to say things like "if a dvd contains more than one similar movie or movies from the same series or featuring the same actor, than it's probably a bootleg." Not only does that target bootlegs, it attacks the predominant method for releasing PD films around at the moment and even treads on the studios' tendency to repackage returns as themed discount multi packs. It sometimes makes you wonder who they're working for. It seems to me that their main line is that copyright is essentially perpetual and that there is no such thing as a legal release of any film if it is not authorised by the original copyright owner.

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Poster: Staraker Date: Jan 13, 2010 6:47am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: BritishKorda PD Films on Archive?

As I said, I think in many respects the UK protection for pre-1956 Act films is as close to post-1988 Act films so as some degree of simplification can be forgiven. They real eye-opener is the status of those films that fall between the two, which clearly are progressively falling into the public domain with each year. Unless there are any significant change in the legislation, I guess come 2039 we will have the bizarre situation that every one of those films is PD, yet some pre-1956 Act ones will still be in copyright for many decades after. Yangtse Incident, for example, was released two months before the effective date of the 1956 Act, but director Michael Anderson is still alive now.

Sounds like there must be close co-operation between FACT UK and AFACT! If you have a look at the former's "Is my DVD Genuine?" page below, the PDf makes some similar claims. The statement that, "No legitimate DVDs are sold in 'ALL' Zone Region codes" is, of course, a blatent lie. It's notable that in the past to deal with pirates, FACT has relied heavily on the legislation mentioned previously that was thought to make sale of un-certified titles a criminal offence in itself, rather than any actual copyright infringement.